Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong was the poster boy of the NA LCS 2016 Summer Split, yet following a season of unprecedented regional dominance, Impact has split his time on stage in 2017 with Jeon “Ray” Ji-won. Has the role sharing caused the former World Champion to regress?
Impact is considered to be amongst the ‘old guard’ of imported Korean top laners; one of the first to find his feet in North America, ahead of the influx of top lane talent which arrived during the off-season.
The Summer Split appears to have ushered in a new era of Korean dominance in the top lane, with the likes of Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho and Lee “Flame” Ho-jong excelling within the NA LCS.
Splitting time with young prodigy Ray, in many respects, Impact is falling behind his regional rivals, regressing as he is forced to share the Cloud9 spotlight.
Performance has long since been directly correlated to the amount of time spent on the competitive stage, a metric Impact has had chipped away in the Summer Split as Ray begins to play a more prominent role in Cloud9’s plans.
Comparing the statistics from the Summer Split to as recently as the 2017 Spring Split (the period in which Ray made his debut for the title hopefuls), Impact’s play time has seen a dramatic decrease, as have his performance statistics.
Impact picked up where he had left off in the spring, as Cloud9 rose to the top of the standings once more and challenged Team SoloMid for the NA LCS title in Vancouver.
Impact featured prominently throughout the split, taking the stage on 34 occasions, dwarfing Ray’s 10 game contribution. The difference between the two players was stark, perhaps best emphasised by the two players’ average GD10.
Given that the top lane is often a primary focus for team’s facing Cloud9, Impact was able to remain relevant across the board, whereas Ray was shown to concede significant deficits under pressure in the laning phase.
Eager to make a success of the top lane sub rotation system, Cloud9 has entrusted far more responsibility to Ray during the Summer Split.
Where the two top laners had previously established a clear hierarchy, the balance has shifted as Cloud9 struggle to find form. With only 10 games to his name for the entirety of the Spring Split, Ray has already taken to the stage 14 times in the summer, just two games shy of Impact’s tally:
Ray’s statistics have improved remarkably as a result of his increased play time, Impact’s by contrast, have suffered. The undisputed king of the top lane in 2016, Impact is now considered to be amongst the middle of the pack, showing occasional glimpses of his former glory.
Both Kill Participation and KDA statistics have taken a significant hit for Impact since he started more evenly sharing stage time with Ray.
Cloud9’s pursuit of a rotation system has seen the team trade-off possessing the best player in his position for two above-average top laners.
Whilst Ray has achieved his ambitions from the Spring Split, though it’s difficult to imagine that Impact will be entirely satisfied with the situation:
“Impact is the starter, and I’m a sub, so I still have time to start from the ground up.
“My goal for the spring is to gather as much experience as I can from Impact, Reapered, Cain and my other teammates.
“For the summer I want to be credited for something big, a lot of people don’t even know I’m here yet.
“So I’m focusing on learning in the spring, and making myself known in the summer.”
Jeon “Ray” Ji-won
Cloud9 and Ray have succeeded in ‘making a name’ for the top laner within the NA LCS, yet his reputation is far from that established by Impact in 2016.
A lack of games has seen Impact lose his edge, unable to dominate his position with the same level of prowess he previously wielded.
Whether the rotation strategy will pay dividends for Cloud9 remains to be seen, though given that the squad are currently off the pace in 6th place, perhaps reducing Impact’s level of influence was not the answer.